Southampton has unveiled two new pump-out boats that will join five others cruising its many waterways, offering free pump-out sewage services to recreational boaters from Memorial Day until October.
The two boats, one fiberglass and the other aluminum, cost about $80,000 each and were purchased with funds from the federal Clean Vessel Act, the Suffolk County health department and the town.
Southampton pumped out about 125,000 gallons last year.
The Peconic Estuary, which includes all waterways between the North and South Forks, was designated a Vessel Water No Discharge Zone in 2002. Fines for pumping sewage directly into the water are $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation.
Southampton started its pump-out program in 1995, according to town officials, and the county program was started in the late 1990s.
Each boat costs about $18,000 a year to run, according to Southampton Town senior bay Constable Ted Sadleir. The town receives $5,000 reimbursement per boat through the county.
Suffolk County runs a Pump-Out Vessel Incentive Program funded by its capital program, which has helped with the purchase of 14 boats, including four in Southampton. More than 1 million gallons of sewage have been collected since the program’s start, according to James Tomarken, commissioner of the Suffolk County Health Department.
The federal money comes from the Clean Vessel Act Program, which is administered through the states and provides funding to purchase the boats and keep sewage out of protected waterways. The money is generated by a portion of the fees assessed to fishermen and boaters for purchase of equipment or motorboat fuel tax.
East Hampton and Riverhead have added one boat each to their fleets this season.
The Southampton boats run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Memorial Day to October. Boaters can reach the bay constables, who administer the program, on Channel 73 VHF.
“This creates an enormous ‘non-impact’ on our waters,” said Southampton trustee Fred Havemeyer. It’s “a resounding success.”
Photo: Constable Ted Sadleir, left, and boat operator Rick Boyd go over how the new pump boats operate during the launch at the Shinnecock Marina, Westhampton. (May 26, 2011)